A Spoonful of Ashes Makes the Tea Sweeter

Nesmin the RISD MummySky rockets… I know I could have spent my time more productively on a Sunday afternoon. Jeez, I could have spent money on a hooker, or bet on horses at the track, or simply have gone to church. But hookers and horses don’t come cheap, and neither does Christ. So, with it being Sunday and all, and the river crossing over to North Main Street smelling peachy, I decided to spend my time cheaply, free cheap, at the RISD Museum.

Once inside, I saw the café, and not the Dan Flavin light, which was more like a bad waiting room for those juicing on the electrical current in the walls and gassing on frappes. I personally would rather wait in the dentist office hearing the oohs and ows of an unfortunate soul getting their bicuspid drilled… but that’s just me, and everyone has their perks.

The cemetery would have been nice. Museums are like cemeteries. They take care of objects from the dead, cemeteries take the dead, it’s kind of a win win. The RISD Museum has no shortage of the dead. In fact, they have a famous dead, Nesmin, the RISD Mummy. The 170 – 30 BCE mummy lies in a dimly lighted room surrounded by other artifacts of the Egyptian era. After being in the collection of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the man who inspired Orson Welles to create Citizen Kane, the high priest Nesmin was sold to the RISD Museum in 1938, and has been on display ever since.

After walking around, after seeing everything in the museum’s collection, you quickly realize Nesmin is the beating heart and soul of the museum. He keeps all that is in balance. Whether he is in his sarcophagus or not, Nesmin is safe and sound, content and at ease. After the long debate of whether displaying human remains in a museum setting is lawful … I think it’s pointless. It’s just another piece of stained underwear to add to the giant laundry list of today’s rights and wrongs. History is history, good, bad or indifferent. What’s most important is making sure we see history in all of its forms. Artifacts like Nesmin give us the gift of the past, and teach us about our future.

On another note, I think it’s time that Nesmin gets his own room. He has surpassed the age when one gets their own room. It would be a simple room, with light-grey walls and low lighting. The quiet thundering of goblet drums softly fills the space from speakers above, and crowning the room off, Roy Lichtenstein’s 1969 painting Pyramids II, from the museum’s collection, as a reminder of Nesmin’s homeland, a nice way to ease his homesick pains. This would be the perfect sister room to the giant Buddha. It would be a room where guests can go and think about their lives and where they are headed, a room free from the charge of outlets and high-priced coffee.

I spent a great deal of Sunday with Nesmin, and I’m glad I did, it could have been worse. Walking around his glass enclosure, I saw him whole and honored by his sarcophagus, by the laborious hieroglyphic carvings that will assure his safety to the afterlife … and walking away, I knew he was going to be alright.

Monumental Spoon In the Melrose PatternTrotting along, I was unsure if there was going to be other piece in the collection that held my attention as much as Nesmin had. Then, everything changed when I saw the spoon. A 15-pound, 3-foot-tall, sterling silver spoon, eight times that of a normal tea spoon, was leaning up against the title wall of the Gorham Silver Exhibition, currently held at the museum. I was surprised to find out that the Monumental Spoon in the Melrose Pattern is in fact part of the RISD Museum’s collection, and not lent to the museum from another institute. With that said, I propose that the museum keep the spoon on permanent display to be studied and enjoyed.

“Did you see the giant spoon at the RISD Museum?” that’s what the people will say. The spoon will feed a buzz and have those taking pilgrimages from all over to come see it. It will be a new relic, grail, holy, and god-like. Ultra-shiny in my mind, and going off into a daze, I dreamt of the spoon. I was a baby again, nude and pink, and wearing a talcum wig from the days of Antoinette. I was on a rug in a grand room, a lush carpet, and was being fed jarred bananas from this Melrose Spoon.

The spoon is now my new god. It brightened my day, and gave me a chance to reflect, never judges. We should all hail the spoon. Go fast, go now, go right away to the RISD Museum and see the spoon, worship it before it gets put back in the drawer.

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